Vision for Racial Justice in Education

At The Education Trust—West, we believe a different California is possible: a California that ensures that Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native students’ futures are as bright as their dreams are big. We believe that our state’s early learning and care providers, our schools, our colleges, and our universities can form the bedrock of a more just California: a California that places Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native students at the center of its decision-making.

We’ve come a long way in the past twenty years. And while there’s still work to do, there’s also plenty to look forward to. Here we share our vision for the path ahead.

Every Black, Native, Latinx, and Asian student has equitable access to affirming, high-quality learning and reaches their educational goals.

For many students of color, the reality of California schools and colleges is unacceptable: a lack of engaging, challenging instruction, discriminatory disciplinary policies, and content that makes them feel unseen and uncelebrated. We’re failing them. We offer only a fragmented bridge to higher education options—one laden with bureaucratic and financial barriers. And if students make it to higher education, they find institutions more likely to delay and detour their dreams than to ignite a sense of academic empowerment. Often, they lack safe housing, ample food, functioning technology, or robust healthcare.

One day, every student of color in California will attend great schools, colleges, and universities. Deeply committed educators will nurture their brilliance with rigorous coursework and engaging instruction. From curricula to student services, they will see their home cultures and languages reflected and honored. They will feel known, welcomed, and believed in by campus communities that are truly communities. And when it’s time to graduate or transfer, they can trust that the doors are open–and educators are ready to help them step through. As adults, they will look back on their time in California’s preschools, schools, colleges, and universities and say those institutions only ever contributed to their futures.

While the total number of suspensions has decreased for Black students, they continue to be suspended at disproportionate rates. In 2011, Black students made up almost 7 percent of the K-12 student population but amounted to 16 percent of students suspended; in 2019, Black students made up 5 percent of the student population but totaled 15 percent of students suspended.

In an effort to ensure remedial education is not a barrier to success in higher education, most community colleges now offer corequisite supports directly in credit-bearing courses. While equity gaps still exist, students receiving corequisite supports are about 30 percentage points more likely to complete a credit-bearing course in one semester than students enrolled in a remedial course are to complete a credit-bearing course in one year.


Every school employs and supports educators and leaders that represent California's racial and ethnic diversity.

Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native students fare better when they learn from educators who share their racial backgrounds. And, Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native educators enter and stay in teaching professions when they are offered fair compensation and support. Yet, the professionals, disproportionately women of color, who care for our state’s youngest learners remain egregiously underpaid and underrecognized. Moreover, we are far from racial parity between our K-12 educator workforce and our K-12 student body, a disparity only exacerbated by the 2020 failure of Proposition 16. We can — and must — do more to attract and retain educators of color.

One day, Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native educators will see clear pathways to a sustainable career, unimpeded by financial barriers, biases, or isolation. New teachers and care providers will find the support they need to bring their training to life, and teaching veterans will have opportunities to lead, either from inside or outside the classroom. All educators will participate in rigorous, ongoing professional development, receive meaningful feedback, and enjoy collaborative, supportive staff communities. Job stability and compensation will reflect educators’ vital contributions to our state and the expertise and hard work teaching requires. The most skilled educators will be drawn to high-need settings with incentives and the support they need to ensure their students learn. In short, doing right by Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native students means doing right by Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native educators.

The representation of teachers of color in California’s classrooms has improved over the last twenty years, from 22 percent of the workforce in 1998 to 39 percent today. Yet, there’s still a way to go before achieving parity with students of color who make up 77 percent of students in California’s schools.


Every school, college, and university receives abundant and equitable funding.

The funding of California’s education system is rooted in decades of racist housing policies that deliberately shut Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native Californians out of neighborhoods with more resources for schools. As generations of students of color were subjected to under-resourced schools, rising tuition and increased cost of living also put college further out of financial reach. Today, California has begun the work of reversing its long history of racially inequitable education funding compounded by chronic underinvestment. However, to truly address unjust education funding, we must prioritize our state’s most marginalized students at levels that match their losses in educational opportunity, account for the injustice they experience, and honor their limitless promise.

One day, our educational funding systems will work to dismantle discriminatory policies Instead of standing on — and perpetuating — them. Simply put, resources must go where they are needed most. With ample funding that prioritizes communities that have been starved for too long, California’s schools, colleges, and universities will finally stabilize and flourish. Eliminating scarcity in our education systems is not only about investing in individuals’ futures, it’s also about ensuring that Black, Latinx, Asian, and Native communities thrive.

California pays five times as much to keep a person in jail or prison than it does to send a K-12 student to school: $64,642 versus $11,495 per student.

While California’s per-pupil spending has increased from $10,675 in 2002 (adjusted for inflation) to $14,035 in 2019, it is still well below other large states like New York and Illinois.


Every student, family member, and community member can understand how well California’s educational systems are operating and hold them accountable.

Broad access to actionable data is key to advancing racial equity in California’s education system: we can’t find solutions to problems we can’t see. While the state has made some strides toward this goal with the California School Dashboard and the developing Cradle-to-Career Data System, there’s much more the state can do. We need to collect data that tells the story of our most marginalized students from birth to workforce. Disaggregating data will ensure that no students’ needs are hidden from view. These data should be fully accessible to parents, students, practitioners, and leaders. And when equity gaps surface, we need to make sure education leaders are prompted and supported to make changes to advance equity in partnership with communities. One day, anyone will be able to turn to clear, accessible sources for information on whether our state’s systems are doing right by young Californians: knowledge is power — and information is the first step. From birth to early childhood care, K-12 schools, colleges, universities, and the workforce, the picture will stretch wide enough to encompass a young person’s journey to adulthood and illuminate all our communities’ unique experiences and needs. The Cradle-to-Career Data System and the California School Dashboard will be comprehensive and straightforward: quantitative collections of stories that inspire shared decision-making.

Since 2001, at least four new data collection systems have been created to increase data transparency and accountability, including the School Accountability Score Card (SARC), the California School Dashboard, the Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP), and the requirement to report ESSA per-pupil expenditures.

of fierce advocacy

We now have an opportunity to reshape California education. Our twenty years of fierce advocacy have only been feasible because of your partnership and support. Please consider supporting our work toward racial justice in education during this historic year: Help make this Vision for Racial Justice in Education a reality